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Oceans of Consolation: Personal Accounts of Irish Migration to Australia
Oceans of Consolation: Personal Accounts of Irish Migration to Australia

Our Price:57.25
Authors: David Fitzpatrick
Affiliation: Trinity College Dublin
Publication Year: Hardback 1995
Pages: 650
Size: 230 x 140mm

ISBN: 9781859180358


The title of the book Oceans of Consolation echoes the phrase of a Clareman in rural New South Wales, thanking his father for writing him a letter and so bridging the gap created by migration. This book explores, through the personal letters of Irish emigrants to Australia in the nineteenth century, the history and cultural influence of migration. Full transcriptions are given of fourteen sequences of Irish-Australian letters, which were composed by writers with little education, and sent in both directions between 1843 and 1906. These 111 letters have been selected from a thousand or so which survive, out of the millions exchanged between Ireland and Australia. Each sequence has intrinsic interest as personal testimony, and the letters make fascinating reading. Yet they cannot truly 'speak for themselves'. The sources of genealogy, biography and local history have been used to reconstitute 14 personal stories, providing contexts for interpreting the letters. These commentaries invite the reader to overhear more than the words alone. The letters in this book convey 'facts' and impressions on almost every imaginable subject, giving insight into the daily preoccupations of obscure men and women in both Ireland and Australia. These themes are analysed in chapters covering family politics, the organisation of migration, Irish origins, Australian outcomes, and cultural differences. Equally significant are the forms of discourse by which Irish-Australian correspondence sought or offered consolation and advice. Oddly, the personal letter is only now being recognised as a sub-literary form worth investigation in its own right. This book is a contribution not only to the history of migration, but to the study of popular culture.

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